Moral Compass

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Maria grounded me in my history and my present. Have you ever met someone who was just good? Who, when you came across complicated moral questions, was programmed into your phone as “certain virtue”? This was Maria, exactly.

Holding Still For As Long As Possible by Zoe Whittall

This novel won the Lambda Literary Award: Transgender. A review can be seen HERE. More award winners can be found on the Amazon.com  Lambda Literary Award: Transgender listing.

God Does Not Intervene

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The following quote marks a turning point in the author’s life story. This is followed by multiple extremely difficult circumstances beyond her control, exacerbated by a litany of her own seriously bad choices. All of this ultimately leads her to the PCT and the beginning of the journey detailed in this book. While this is not a spiritual journey per se. there are moments (here and there) that can only be described as deeply spiritual – most are the good kind, but they begin with this.

 It was the same when I tried to pray. I prayed fervently, rabidly, to God, any god, to a god I could not identify or find. I cursed my mother, who’d not given me any religious education. Resentful of her own repressive Catholic upbringing, she’d avoided church altogether in her adult life, and now she was dying and I didn’t even have God. I prayed to the whole wide universe and hoped that God would be in it, listening to me. I prayed and prayed, and then I faltered. Not because I couldn’t find God, but because suddenly I absolutely did: God was there, I realized, and God had no intention of making things happen or not, of saving my mother’s life. 

God was not a granter of wishes. God was a ruthless bitch.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

  • Pacific Crest Trail (PCT): Website and Twitter

True Selfishness

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Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.  And unselfishness is letting other people’s lives alone, not interfering with them.

It is not selfish to think for oneself.  A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.

A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose.  It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.

The Soul of Man Under Socialism by Oscar Wilde (Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wild)

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Corruption or Opportunity?

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In the West, and among some in the Indian elite, this word, corruption, had purely negative connotations; it was seen as blocking India’s modern, global ambitions. But for the poor of a country where corruption thieved a great deal of opportunity, corruption was one of the genuine opportunities that remained.

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo

From the epilogue:

The events recounted in the preceding pages are real, as are all the names. From the day in November 2007 that I walked into Annawadi and met Asha and Manju until March 2011, when I completed my reporting, I documented the experiences of residents with written notes, video recordings, audiotapes, and photographs. Several children of the slum, having mastered my Flip Video camera, also documented events recounted in this book….When I settle into a place, listening and watching, I don’t try to fool myself that the stories of individuals are themselves arguments. I just believe that better arguments, maybe even better policies, get formulated when we know more about ordinary lives.

Heroic Liar

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An injurious truth has no merit over an injurious lie. Neither should ever be uttered. The man who speaks an injurious truth lest his soul be not saved if he do otherwise, should reflect that that sort of a soul is not strictly worth saving. The man who tells a lie to help a poor devil out of trouble, is one of whom the angels doubtless say, “Lo, here is an heroic soul who casts his own welfare in jeopardy to succor his neighbor’s; let us exalt this magnanimous liar.””

On the Decay of the Art of Lying by Mark Twain

Note: See the review.

Learning the Moral Lie

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Lying is universal–we all do it. Therefore, the wise thing is for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others’ advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily…as being ashamed of our high calling. Then shall we be rid of the rank and pestilent truth that is rotting the land; then shall we be great and good and beautiful, and worthy dwellers in a world where even benign Nature habitually lies, except when she promises execrable weather.

On the Decay of the Art of Lying by Mark Twain

Note: See the review.

 

Lying is a Virtue

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I suspect that it goes without saying, but I shall say it anyway: Mark Twain is one of those rare authors who can actually get away with saying something like this. And, in true Twain fashion, if you read the entire work, you will find the quote means much more when read in context.

I wish I could write half as well.

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No fact is more firmly established than that lying is a necessity of our circumstances–the deduction that it is then a Virtue goes without saying.

On the Decay of the Art of Lying by Mark Twain